BEMIDJI -- Despite twice rallying from one-goal deficits, the Bemidji State men’s hockey team was felled 3-2 in overtime by Northern Michigan on Saturday night at the Sanford Center.
Ben Newhouse netted the overtime winner for the Wildcats (7-11-0, 5-3-0 Western Collegiate Hockey Association), who secured the extra WCHA standings point to take five of six points for the series.
The No. 17 Beavers (7-6-3, 2-3-1 WCHA) bounced back from a lackluster 5-1 defeat Friday, but they’ve now lost consecutive games for the first time since December.
“I thought Northern had the better of the play in the first period,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “But I thought in the second and third period we had good gas in the tank. Our forecheck was better, and I was really happy with our play. … The game could have went either way and we get a point out of it, but it stinks when you lose in 3-on-3.”
Neither Sillinger brother was available for the Beavers on Saturday.
Owen Sillinger was sidelined with an injury suffered Friday, while Lukas Sillinger was suspended one game by the WCHA stemming from a five-minute major for charging from the night before. The WCHA also suspended NMU defenseman Hank Sorensen for Saturday’s contest as a result of a game misconduct for interference Friday that resulted in Owen Sillinger’s injury.
Northern Michigan picked up where it left off from the series opener.
Joseph Nardi skated to the game’s first goal just 22 seconds after the opening puck drop. The senior received a feed from Andre Ghantous and deposited into the back of the cage for an early 1-0 lead that held through the first intermission.
Sam Solensky had the first answer for BSU. The sophomore skated the length of the ice and fired a shot from the left circle for the tying goal two minutes into the second period.
Later in the frame and moments after NMU killed a high-sticking penalty, Garrett Klee collected a rebound in the slot and buried it to regain a 2-1 lead for the Wildcats with 5:23 remaining in the second.
Just as they did a period prior, the Beavers answered again early in the third.
Ethan Somoza tapped in Brendan Harris’s initial shot at the back door to level the score three minutes into the third. Aaron Miller, back from a one-game injury absence, also earned an assist.
The Wildcats killed a late penalty to preserve the tie. Brad Johnson blasted a long-range shot off the post moments after the power play expired, and the teams headed to 3-on-3 overtime.
Ghantous slid the puck to Newhouse during a 2-on-1 rush for the winning goal at 3:03 of the extra frame.
“There’s no question they had more possession and the better chances in the 3-on-3, and obviously they scored,” Serratore said. “They were better in the 3-on-3 than us, but other than that, it was a great hockey game.”
“Just getting back to our identity as a hockey club,” Johnson said of the changes the team made following Friday’s loss. “Which is just hard-nosed, hard overall play and aggressive. I thought that our team did a really good job of portraying that tonight.”
Goaltenders Zach Driscoll and Rico DiMatteo totaled 27 saves apiece for BSU and NMU.
After 12 penalties and 38 penalty minutes were assessed Friday, Saturday’s game was more subdued. Each team finished 0-for-2 on the power play.
The Beavers will travel to Houghton, Mich. for their final road series of the regular season next weekend at Michigan Tech. Opening faceoff is set for 6:07 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 19, and 5:07 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20.
Northern Michigan 3, No. 17 Bemidji State 2 (OT)
NMU 1 1 0 1 -- 3
BSU 0 1 1 0 -- 2
First period -- 1, NMU, Nardi (Ghantous, Colella), 0:22.
Second period -- 2, BSU, Solensky (unassisted), 2:07; 3, NMU, Klee (Keefer, Enns), 14:37.
Third period -- 4, BSU, Somoza (Harris, Miller), 2:59.
Overtime -- 5, NMU, Newhouse (Ghantous), 3:03.
Goalies (saves-shots) -- BSU, Driscoll (27-30); NMU, DiMatteo (27-29).